August 02, 2019
On July 30, 2019, Gov. Newsome signed into law SB 30, amending the California Family Code (Family Code) to extend domestic partnership benefits, rights, and privileges, to all registered opposite sex domestic partners. In other words, there is no longer a requirement that at least one opposite sex partner be at least age 62. However, other requirements must still be met for domestic partners to avail themselves of their rights under state law, including the requirement to register their domestic partnership with the California Secretary of State.
According to the bill's author, regarding the rationale for the legislation, "Senate Bill 30 expands Californians' options to enter into legally protected relationships. In modern life, people make all sorts of relationship choices reflecting their values, commitments, and long-term plans. SB 30 removes discriminatory barriers for couples who wish to become domestic partners and recognizes and respects their relationship choices. Not everyone in California wants to be married, but many do want their relationships and families to be recognized and have legal protections. This bill enables people's freedom to make choices about their own relationships."
SB 30 amends Section 297 of the Family Code to eliminate the requirement that the domestic partner must be of the same sex or, if of the opposite sex, at least one partner must be at least age 62. Accordingly, Section 297, as amended, contains the following requirements for entering into a domestic partnership:
In addition, SB 30 amends the instructions on the "Declaration of Domestic Partnership" form to require an explanation that registered domestic partners have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law as are granted to and imposed upon legally married persons, as well as an explanation on how to terminate a registered domestic partnership.
Fully insured plans sitused in California will now be required to offer coverage to both same and opposite sex couples who meet the new requirements. Many employers currently only recognize opposite sex domestic partners when one of the partners is at least age 62, as long as they meet the other requirements under California law. While some employers do allow non-registered domestic partners onto their plans, these individuals do not have spouse-like rights that would be otherwise available to registered domestic partners. Thus, this amendment could have a significant impact to both employers and employees alike.
The State will need to update its registration forms for these changes to fully take effect. Accordingly, we recommend working closely with your benefits broker to coordinate implementation of these new requirements with the insurance carriers.
For More Information
For more information about this ACA Pathways or about any other health care reform-related provisions, please contact your Burnham Benefits consultant or Burnham Benefits at:
Burnham Benefits does not engage in the practice of law and this publication should not be construed as the providing of legal advice or a legal opinion of any kind. The consulting advice we provide is intended solely to assist in assessing its compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and other applicable federal and state law requirements, and is based on Burnham Benefit’s interpretation of federal guidance in effect as of the date of this publication. To the best of our knowledge, the information provided herein, and assumptions relied on, are reasonable and accurate as of the date of this publication. Furthermore, to ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any tax advice contained in this publication is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of (i) avoiding penalties imposed under the United States Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another person any tax-related matter.